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India's overseastourists marketis "positive" for Australia with the number of visa applications from the country risingbyover30 per cent during the first three months this year as compared to last year, saysa top tourism official. According to John O'Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia (TA), the increase in the number oftouristvisa applications wasmainly seen post Cricket World Cup in 2015 which introduced Australia as a holidaydestination to the Indian tourists who wereotherwise traditional visitors. "Cricket World Cup introduced Australia to Indian tourists.
We have also seen some aggressive work in India by our Mumbai-basedoffice as well aspartners like Singapore Airlines, Jet Airways and Qantas in promoting Australia," he told PTI. "We have seen anincrease of 32 per cent in visa applications from India and that causedsome short-termdelays of overfour weeks ofgettingvisa approvals through which has nowbeen fixed," O'Sullivan said while giving details about the tourism figures of the first three months this year. O'Sullivan was speaking on the sidelines of Australia Tourism Exchange (ATE)2017, an annually heldevent that broughtover 700 travel wholesales and retailers from 30 nations with 1,500 Australian tourism sellers. "India is a our key priority and we are working hard with Air India and Singapore Airlines to promote Australia in India. We have seen fromrecent times that Air India is more open to increase frequency to10 times a weekto Sydney and Melbourneand wewould love to seeJet Airways flying from Mumbai to Sydney," he said. "If you look at the origin of the Indian market it had beenvisitors fromfamily and relatives category and bulk of them were in Sydney and Melbourne," he said adding that the trend was now changing andaccording to last year's statistics, Queensland, specially Gold Coast city, wastopping the chart of popular destination among theIndian consumers. O'Sullivan said the TAwas now keen to work towardsbuilding the image of Australiaas a destination to bevisited multiple times rather than only once. The Indian consumers were looking at Australia witha lot of attributes like qualityfood and wine. According to the latest official data, 67,800 Indian tourists visited Australia during January-March this year as compared to 60,300 in the same period last year. Total arrivals for calendar year 2016 stood at 260,000, an increase of 11.3 per cent as compared to last year in the similar period. An average spend for Indian visitors was recorded at 5,068 Australian dollars with a total contribution of Indian tourists standing at1.24 billion Australian dollars to the Australian economy. The exhibitors inthe Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) 2017,Indian outbound market was identified asone of the top prioritymarketto be tapped withChina grabbing the topmostslot. According to one of the exhibitors, Elyss larkham ofMoonshadow-TQC cruises, India is an important market and the company is seeing growth in bookings from Indian consumers. Angie Hua of South Australia Tourism Commission said the state was also witnessing a "positive" leap from India. The commissionlaunched severalinitiatives to boost awareness for a variety of experiences and activities like Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Barossa and Adelaide Hills and over the next two years it is expected tofocus on targeting segments like families, honeymooners and independent leisure travellers.